What springs to mind when you read “Tough Love”? I would assume many will jump to this conclusion; Tough love is an expression that is used when we treat someone harshly in order to help them in the long run. Makes sense, right?
But, may I be so bold as to suggest an alternative? Tough love is willingly being nailed to a cross for someone we love.
We have the perfect example of tough love; we have a saviour who has already done that for you and me – his name is Jesus. We mean the cross to Christ; his sacrifice really depicts that he is the prime example of tough love.
Naturally, love is reactive. Think about this – if somebody is loving towards us, we are likely to reciprocate. But now, imagine that same somebody yet on this occasion they weren’t being particularly loving, what’s your natural reaction? To reciprocate. But here’s the thing, tough love is proactive – it turns the other cheek, and it lays itself down for those around them.
As Christians we hear this all too often. But have you ever taken a moment to think about what it would ACTUALLY look like? Jesus clearly tells us in Luke’s account; “Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). To truly demonstrate tough love, we must sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others.
Tough love is loving other people, even when those people don’t deserve it. Tough love is sacrificial. Tough love is unconditional. Tough love is not dependant on someone else’s performance. If that were the case, Jesus would never have done what he did. If we truly want to be imitators of Christ, we must understand what it’s like to be Christ. He took the burden of every sin, including yours and mine. Mark Batterson reckons that the gospels can be captured in two words; “love conquers”. I believe this to be true. Moreover, I believe it is also true in how we live our lives.
I challenge you, if you are reading this to think about your concept of love. Tough love isn’t easy and is costly. But if we have a saviour who was willing to die for ALL our sins, is it not our responsibility to live like him?
So, this week, how will you show tough love? You may fail and get it wrong, but are you willing to put yourself out there and replicate our saviours love?